Local News

St. Mary's student's service places her on the path to success

Posted May 5, 2014
Updated May 8, 2014

One student's love for science and dedication to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has earned her a national award and a special trip to the nation's capitol.

On Thursday, St. Mary's School sophomore Molly Paul will fly to D.C. with members of the museum to accept the National Medal of Museum and Library Services from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. She's also just won the Prudential Spirit of Community award for all the hours she's spent volunteering for the institution.

"It’s really special," said museum worker Meredith Bayer who works regularly with Paul. 

The young student has immersed herself in almost every aspect of science, Bayer said. Paul's started her own turtle rescue program, acted as a junior curator and worked with the fish and vertebrate departments at the museum. 

"I really want to nurture her love for science and her enthusiasm," Bayer said. "But she does so many things on her own, its kind of hard to nurture her because she’s already there!"

And Paul's enthusiasm in both the classroom and at the museum has adults impressed.

"I'm beyond happy because we don't have a lot of girls who think they can do science when they actually can," said St. Mary's chemistry teacher Jennifer Rundles. "They just need to dive in and find whatever's interesting to them about science, and that's what Molly's done."

Paul's goal is to be a director at an aquarium and she said the skills she's gained from volunteering at the museum have been essential. 

"I've gotten to learn how to take care of such a wide variety of species, why they should be protected in nature and how everyone can do their part," she said. "The leadership skills I've learned...I’ll never forget that those things."

Rundles said the museum has been a great resource for the school and Paul and key to her development.

"I've just had every door opened here, and I appreciate it so much," Paul said.

Paul plans to keep working at the museum, and while next week may be her first trip to the White House, some speculate it won't be her last.

"She can do anything," Bayer said. "She’s amazing."

WRAL will be there for the White House presentation. Also, the museum will have a live feed for visitors to watch the ceremony at the Daily Planet Theater next Thursday at 11 a.m.

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